Bio – Celeste Zugec

Celeste and her husband Chuck Zugec live in south-central, Ontario, where they have a rich and full family life with their two grown married children, and seven grandchildren.

Music has always played a significant role in Celeste’s life and she has sung every music genre from traditional choir, folk, to blues, rock, country and Celtic. She has been a guest at conferences; youth retreats; penitentiaries; drop-in-centers; in clubs. She is a gospel-recording artist with two cd’s and a country demo and plays bodhran, congas and other fun percussion instruments with her church and with Rammy a local Celtic band. She has produced and hosted a bi-weekly Christian program for cable television; for three years sat on the Gospel Music Advisory Committee for the Canadian JUNO Awards. In March of 2008, she also began hosting an eclectic radio show on a local station featuring music and interviews with Canadian independent artists.

Through a 1980 appearance of Dan Peek (ex-America) on the 700 Club, and subsequent series on “prophesy” that Pat Robertson and Ben Kinchlow did, Celeste committed her life to a personal relationship with God. She had just left her job as Press and Publicity Manager for Capitol Records-EMI Canada, had lived through – an abusive marriage, the suicide death of her brother; alcohol and “drug abuse” and for nine years had been involved in the “white light” occult movement and was living with her now husband Chuck;. As an aspiring “medium and astrologer” Celeste says, “I never would have tuned in to one of those dreaded religious programs had I not seen Dan that day as he sang ‘All Things Are Possible’.

Her training in public relations with a Toronto fashion magazine and Capitol Records prepared her to work with Christian missions like SCA International, Yonge Street Mission, where she helped create support material for the development & media departments as well as for field staff. She also began a speaking/singing ministry in Ontario prisons, and with Stonecroft Ministries/Christian Women’s After 5, and Christian Business & Professional Women’s clubs, traveling to cities in Canada and parts of the United States.

During the mid 1990’s she traveled with Lonesome Dove, a country band that also played some gospel music. “Unlike other lead singers that usually go backstage during intermission, I spent time getting to know the people around their tables. There are a lot of hurting people out there, and what they are really looking for is love…the kind that only God can give. “I heard a lot of heartbreaking stories from moms that had lost their families because of their own addictions; men whose wives had left them for other men; still others who were so disappointed with, ‘the church’, (the place where everybody should have known their name) that they were sitting in a club, hoping for relationships like the ones idealized in the popular TV sitcom Cheers and the song, Where Everybody Knows Your Name.

Her volunteer work in a single prison, for a time, became a full-time ministry in the provincial and federal prisons in southern Ontario. She uses music as a tool during chapel services to gain the interest and attention of the inmates and for several years followed up with Bible studies for group and one-on-one ministry. “Having worked with men and women in prison since 1985, it has pained me to see how many are released, only to return time and again,” says Celeste. “I agree with past Canadian Justice Minister, Mark McGuiggan who observed, “Without personal reformation, there can be no rehabilitation.” That kind of personal reform within people in prison tends to fall apart, as he or she is overwhelmed with the process of reintegration into society. As an Alpha in Prisons Advisor with Alpha Canada for several years, Celeste’s specific function was to help with its “Equipping the Church to Care for Ex-Offenders” program. Though she is no longer an advisor, she continues in Alpha and other prison ministry with men and women.

In early 2003, S.C.A. International loaned Celeste to the work at a residential Christian campus for troubled teens located in New York State. She utilized her public relations skills, and continued to travel with her music and speaking ministries. After a two-year secondment, Celeste & Chuck made the decision for her to return to Canada where S.C.A. engaged her in a public relations role for a time to help with the creation of its new image and work through its brand equity issues. She helped with the design and implementation of the organization’s new general brochure, website and other literature for its Development Department before resigning in early 2006.

“After fourteen years I finally released a second CD in October 2005. I really enjoyed putting “Driving Nails” together. I wrote a couple of tunes for it and was more involved in the production process than I was with “Not My Will.” I was also able to include parts of my story and scriptures that are meaningful and encouraging to me in the liner notes. I am grateful that there were radio stations and syndicated country gospel programs in Canada and the U.S. that showed interest in and played the CD.”

Celeste has encountered women, in nearly every city that she has traveled to, that tell her that her story of abuse could be theirs. “When I was a girl, abuse issues were a family’s best kept secrets. We have come a long way, but it still takes a lot of courage and sometimes encouragement for women (and men) to open that can of worms.”

In 2006, Celeste joined the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness (CCAA) where she spent four years helping them through an organizational brand development program that included a whole new image for the organization’s literature, a new website, a corporate DVD, music video and, prior to her departure in 2010, a powerful campaign with the tagline… “Abuse hurts…please make it stop!”

“Given her background and the abuse issues that surrounded her in her early years, our foundation was a natural transition for Celeste at that time,” says CCAA President & CEO, Ellen Campbell. “Celeste’s contribution to the team’s marketing efforts has contributed considerably to our mission.”

Celeste has continued to work in marketing through her own company Harmony Group Partners with clients such as Cynthia Gruchy, Real Estate,  Mr. Rooter Plumbing, Aire Serve Heating and Air Conditioning of Caledon-King and National Flood Prevention. She also contributed to the Bradford Board of Trade as its V.P. Marketing on the Board of Directors.

Today, Celeste continues to share her story in message and song and accepts speaking & singing dates wherever God says to “Go.” She also continues to play with the bands Rammy and Earl Grey Hot and  is always optimistic about what the future has in store!